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Sarah Kate Houston, News Editor

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In early March, three people in Austin, Texas received mysterious packages which exploded upon opening. On March 2, Anthony Stephan House became the first victim of the attacks, killed after a package exploded on his front porch. A 17-year-old boy, Draylen Mason, died on March 12 after another package explosion, which severely injured his mother as well. Another woman, Esperanza Herrera, was attacked on the night of March 12, leaving her with life-threatening injuries. A few nights later on March 18, two men were walking home when they triggered a tripwire causing an explosion. Though it is not a delivered package like the other three, police believe the fourth explosion is another hit from the same attacker due to “similarities” with the way in which they were set up. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said the attacker is showing a “higher level of sophistication, a higher level of skill.” He added, “what we have seen now is a significant change from what appeared to be three very targeted attacks to what was, an attack that would have hit a random victim that happened to walk by.” A few days later, on March 20, a package in a FedEx facility exploded on the conveyor belt in Schertz, TX. This explosion injured an employee, but there were no fatalities. On March 21, the police followed a lead and tracked a suspect to a hotel north of Austin. While waiting for a tactics team to arrive, the suspect got in his car and started driving away. Once the vehicle stopped, as a SWAT team approached, an explosive went off inside the car knocking down and injuring a SWAT member. The now deceased suspect was 23 year old Mark Anthony Conditt.

The motive of the “serial bomber” is still unknown; however, due to the fact that the specifically targeted victims were African American or Hispanic, police say that it could potentially be a hate crime. The eastern Austin area, the location of the first three attacks, is a predominantly African American and Hispanic occupied neighborhood. However, the two victims from the fourth explosion were white men, and the bomb was not hidden in a package to be deliberately delivered, therefore disrupting the pattern of the attacks. The police knew that the creator of the bombs was skilled, and officers say this person “knows what they are doing.” Former FBI agent Dan Defenbaugh, with experience in bomb investigation, said during the investigation: “once a bomb builder makes a device, they usually make it the same way each and every time, that’s not happening here.”

The community in Austin is horrified by each incident that has occurred, and many express fear of leaving their home. The Austin Police Department has not released much about the investigation, but have informed residence to be cautious since there could still be packages arriving, or even others who were working with the suspect.

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